Thursday, 12 December 2013

It is December, so it must be oranges!


Ann and I are back in Albania again. With the death of my mother and Ann's father in recent weeks our time in Albania had to be put back until now. Usually we come in early November when it can still be warm, but December marks the start of winter as it does with us. The days are still sunny and bright but a cold wind blows from the snow topped mountains. But as it is December the orange trees are full of ripe fruit as with this tree in one of the main streets in Elbasan. The markets are full of fresh mandarins and oranges at 45p per kilo.


We flew in on Tuesday and met with Robert Cook who took us to his home in Lezhe where we met Mira, his wife, and their daughter Emily, and caught up on all their news. Then on Wednesday morning we caught the bus back to Tirana and met Tomor and Miranda who lead Victory church in the city. They took us lunch which we did not expect. Again it was good to catch up and to hear their plans for their personal lives and the life of the church. We hope Miranda, photo below, can make it to our ladies REAL conference in June.

We were joined by Mira, Ida Sinakoli's sister. Ida is an Albanian young lady in our church who many of you will know. Naturally, Mira was full of questions about her sister. Mira is engaged and plans to be married next year. Then to the furgon, the minibus, that brought us to Elbasan and to the apartment where we usually stay.

The evening was spent with Ilir and Rudina the leaders of the church we support here in Elbasan, having a meal together with them and their 3 daughters Sara, Eliada and Abigaila.

Like many families they are getting ready for Christmas. This is still a new venture for many here as Albania has for hundreds of years been Muslim and in communist times it was the New Year that was celebrated. Even now of course it is the commercial aspect of Christmas that comes to the fore as with these decorated Christmas cakes. Christmas trees and street decorations are now to be found in most towns and cities.

Now at 4.30pm, as I write this, the sun is going down behind the snow topped mountains. The sky is pink and blue, clear and cold. Stars are already shining. Darkness will cover us in a few minutes as there is virtually no twilight. And it will be cold. Homes here are built for the summer heat, not winter cold. Heating even in shops and homes are inadequate for the task. I once visited a maternity hospital here in Albania in winter. None of the wards were heated. Only the babies in their incubators were kept warm. The mothers slept in their clothes and coats in bed to keep warm. Now we must go to eat before the restaurant gets too cold and we shiver as we eat!
All our love,
Ken and Ann
PS The fruit available tells you the time of year. So oranges tell you it is December, September will bring grapes and October/November pomegranates and so on all through the year.


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